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One Year Later: Revisiting Christiana J. Paul


It’s been a full year since the launch of the Christiana J. Paul Collection. I had the opportunity to catch up with Christina Liedtke, lead designer for the brand and hear more about everything from her inspirations to advice for new designers.

CR: You have now designed two beautiful and unique collections. Where do you find your inspiration?

CL: The most integral part of my inspiration is sourced from human emotion. Our emotions, especially as women, are triggered by daily rituals to special occasions. Whether it is getting ready for the day or sexing up for the evening, the most important aspect is ‘what article(s) of clothing or designer will you wear to feel your best and most confident’ and that is how we want our consumer to feel about Christiana J. Paul.

However, as a central aspect to human emotion, we source a lot of inspiration for the pieces and collections from nature. We respond to nature in such a personally unique and innate way. It connects us directly and sincerely to the constant change around us.  The lines and shapes of nature in each season align with our juxtaposition as women with our strength, wit, sensuality, and vulnerability.

CR: How would you describe your design aesthetic?

CL: Our designs have a certain balance of curved lines and sharp asymmetrical angles. We leverage texture and prints in our fabrics to play out the emotional seasonal storyline. Our designs need to find a balance between a woman’s heart, romantic and soft and woman’s intellect, sharp and courageous.

When we design, we always keep consumer questions in mind to deliver on design aesthetic. We want to deliver on our brand equity of both timeless and evolutionary to mirror women in today’s society. The Christiana J. Paul brand is about love, the love for ourselves  and the love for others in the most inspiring and confident way. For Spring 2014, our tagline is “if you were to see the love of your life, what would you wear?” For Fall 2014, leveraging the darker hues and shapes of autumn, the tagline is “if you were to see the lust of your life, what would you wear?” Both of these deliver on our confident and courageous determination to significantly dress for moments whether it is for ourselves and for others.


2014 Winston Coat

Fall 2014 Collection – Winston Coat

CR: How would you describe the ideal Christiana J. Paul woman? What is she like?

CL: We call the woman that wears our designs, Anna. I want to hone in on the word ‘confident’, as she is confident, but in a way that is a subtle statement. She is humbly confident in an aspirational way by just being herself and dressing for herself.  She is energetic, influential, and impactful in her journey and others positively respond to her. She is a working woman that seeks excellence in her presence. We find Anna wearing our designs to day or evening events that require simple and elegant statement pieces as well as beautiful accent pieces like our coats for her daily routine.

CR: What are the hot trends for Spring 2014?

CL: The encompassing and primary trends that I have seen on the runway, in the latest books, and in our own Spring 2014 collection regard the theme of nature in a super natural sense with metallics, pastels, and abstract shapes.

There is much exploration of surrealistic, yet feminine silhouettes in women’s RTW for Spring 2014 with a celebration of feminine connections and friendships and how the power of these and nature plays into fashion and society.

These trends are easy transitions into your wardrobe without being avante garde or compromising your style. For consumers metallics can be poignant, yet subtle while pastel palletes explore the softer and simpler side of spring and summer 2014.

In our own Spring 2014 collection we have fused these trends together through hues, texture, and softer abstract shapes in three of our signature pieces.

SS14 – Bailey Dress         SS14 – Todd Coat            SS14 – Abbott Coat


CR: What is your advice to other aspiring designers, that would like to start their own line?

CL: Starting, developing, and getting a line off the ground is not easy and that is an understatement of what it actually takes.  Whether you are new to the industry or already established through your fashion career, starting a line for long term success takes a sustainable and unique style that is consumer likeable to gain distribution and generate revenue.  However that is not the only aspect to this business, having a great style makes it easier. I have highlighted three key elements that aspiring designers need to be cognizant of for success:

#1. Do your research before committing to the development of the line. Truly understand your product offering and how it will fit in the market and with consumers.

#2. Be extremely numbers focused and stay within budget. This is good advice for all entrepreneurs, but specifically in Fashion Design as this is a very costly business. Understand short term and long term capital needed to evolve your line and increase distribution.

#3. Network, network, and network. This industry is built on the network and without it your capital and investments will fall flat.

#4. Don’t give up and always be flexible. To find success in this industry you have to continue to work hard even if doors are closed and phone calls and e-mails go unanswered. You need to find creative ways to gain industry attention and be flexible in both design, style and communication.




Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have


Brought to my attention by Catherine Morgan


How to Create Your Fashion Portfolio


A tough economy doesn’t temper the desire to buy a drool-worthy pair of pumps, the hottest new bag or a fabulous overcoat.  However, when the money is tight, how do you know when to splurge and when to resist the urge?

Below is a guide to creating your optimal fashion portfolio.

Investment Pieces- Buy and Hold: There are certain pieces in your wardrobe that you should not feel badly about paying up for. To evaluate an investment piece, think about how long it will last you.  Is the fabric and construction durable? Is the shape and coloring classic or trend-oriented?  For example, Louis Vuitton bags can be a great investment piece, but you may be better off with the “Speedy” in the classic Monogram Canvas than the trendier Monogram Mutlicolore Canvas.


Also, think about how often you will wear it, as well as how fickle you are.  A gorgeous coat may be a great investment piece for someone who is open to wearing it for several seasons.  If you are an outer-wear addict, you may prefer more diversification in your fashion portfolio.  For example, this great Jason Wu leather coat with a fur collar or this Burberry Prorsum plum quilted coat could be a great investment if you will wear it as your go-to-coat for many seasons.

Fully-valued can still be a value:  Whether it’s a pair of premium denim jeans or leather boots, sometimes a fashion item’s price is over our normal threshold of what we think its value should be.  To decide whether to splurge or save (or at least wait for a sale), think about how many times you will wear the item over the course of the next two years.  It makes far more sense to pay $300 for a pair of jeans that you will wear once every weekend (over the course of a year that is less than $6 every time you wear it) vs. a pair of  $150 wool pants that you wear 5 times a year ($30 per wear).  Think of the pricing more in terms of its usefulness to you than what it is you expect to pay for a certain item.

I can see getting a ton of value out of this great Aigner dress (worn alone or paired with a cardigan), these black and white Kate Spade ankle boots or this simple Rachel Zoe overcoat.


Trends- Churn and Burn: Just like the hot penny stock of the day, a super-trendy fashion or accessory can turn your fashion portfolio upside down.  If you have to try out the it-look of the season, look for value-brands, sales or even turn to a site like Bag Borrow or Steal to rent out a hot item for a fraction of the cost of purchasing it.


A few other portfolio-building tips: To make even more out of your fashion portfolio, keep a written or electronic catalogue of what you have (perhaps in a pretty notebook or planner) and bring it with you when you shop.  The more items you have in your fashion portfolio that work together, the more value you will derive from them.  Also, make sure that the item fits you.  If you have to wait to lose 5 pounds before you can zip up that dress, pass it up.  Finally, never go on “margin”.  If you can’t afford to buy something, don’t buy it.  Credit card rates can make your great deal an investment loser by the time you finish paying it off.


Luxury Travel Accessory Company Tumi Sets IPO Range


One of the favorite weapons of the road warrior is durable, good looking luggage and travel accessories. Tumi is a name that is pretty much synonymous with that. The company, which has been catering to working women on a more focused basis with collections in pink and a collaboration with Anna Sui, has set the terms for its Initial Public Offering (IPO), which is set to price the week of 4/16.

The expected price range for the stock of $15-17. This will allow the company to raise up to approximately $320 billion off of a valuation of up to $1.15 billion. This is quite a turnaround (not to mention a profit) for Doughty Hanson and the other private equity firms that bought Tumi about 8 years ago for a reported $276 million. Tumi will trade on the NYSE under the clever ticker: TUMI.

Luxury goods, including accessories, have been strong performers. Michael Kors Holding’s IPO did so well late last year that they raised more money through a follow-on offering just a few weeks ago. So, despite a rich valuation, keep your eye on Tumi.

Anna Sui International Carry on by Tumi.


Fashion Forward: Lauren by Ralph Lauren One-Shoulder Island Fuchsia Dress


Why blend in when you can stand out?  That ended up being my guidance when I went fashion forward for a business show.  Here’s the clip with me wearing an amazing one-shoulder Island Fuchsia Lauren by Ralph Lauren dress for the Tom Sullivan Show on Fox Business.

Once again, business does not have to be boring!

Thanks to the Ralph Lauren team for sending this dress.

Stock Market- Coach’s Affordable Luxury


Disclaimer: This site and video are not meant to give financial advice.  Please seek counsel from your qualified financial adviser.

When I invest, I always gravitate towards businesses and business models that I fully understand. Here I talk about why I like Coach and their affordable luxury positioning in the US and abroad (as well as their fundamentals and metrics at the time).

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